Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Friday, May 29, 2015 7:37 pm

Odds and ends for May 29

Apparently, the Texas floods show that the state is et up with witches and sodomites. Who knew?

Even though he won re-election, FIFA head Sepp Blatter is hearing the hellhounds on his trail. Couldn’t happen to a nicer corrupt sports executive besides Roger Goodell. Relatedly, the organization’s big sponsors are starting to get restless. About time.

The government’s handling of deadly microbes might be suboptimal. I’ve seen this movie before. It didn’t end well.

More proof, were more needed, that banning abortion doesn’t end abortion, it only makes some desperate women even more desperate.

More proof, were more needed, from the TPP debate that campaign contributions have the highest ROI of any form of investment.

More proof, were more needed, that John McCain has passed his sell-by date.

Relatedly, if Congress and legislatures really wants to mess around with public health policy in a useful way (I know, but humor me), they could stop trying to ban abortion and start banning “gay-conversion” “therapy.” 

Speaking of Congress and gays, it now looks as if former House Speaker Dennis Hastert’s indictment this week pertains to the fact that he was being blackmailed by a man with whom he apparently had sexual relations back when he was a teacher and wrestling coach, before he got into Congress. Indeed, one of the L.A. Times’s two (unnamed) sources for this information claims that Hastert’s conduct amounted to “sexual abuse,” suggesting that the blackmailer, “Individual A” in the indictment, may have been a former student. The crimes Hastert is charged with pertain to financial transactions and lying to the FBI and have nothing to do with what he was being blackmailed for. This all raises many, many questions, among them: Is the guy who was blackmailing him being prosecuted also?

The legislative whores who are screwing up N.C.’s renewable energy policy on behalf of Duke Energy and the extraction industry get called out by Apple, Google, and Facebook. I love it when large, greedy corporations turn on each other.

The 4th Circuit has smacked down the GOP legislature’s 2013 gerrymandering of Wake County school-board districts. The gerrymandering isn’t dead, unfortunately, but it’ll face higher hurdles in the trial court. Now if someone would sue over its redistricting of the Wake County commissioners …

Relatedly, a new lawsuit has been filed against the GOP-controlled legislature’s 2011 gerrymandering of the state’s legislative districts. The U.S. Supreme Court already has ordered the N.C. Supreme Court to look at them in light of its ruling in a similar case in Alabama that found that racial gerrymandering there had been inappropriate.

Gov. Pat McCrory, in a rare display of leadership and common sense, has said he’ll veto SB2, which would allow magistrates to claim religious reasons for “opting out” of their duty to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Not only that — and this is a stunner — he has vetoed HB 405, the “Ag-Gag” bill. When McCrory said yesterday he’d veto SB2, Kirk Ross at the Carolina Mercury joked on Facebook that McCrory had announced his 2016 re-election campaign. But I think that’s dead accurate. McCrory is more scared of his likely Democratic opponent in 2016, Attorney General Roy Cooper, than he is of being primaried.

Now McCrory needs to veto the abortion bill (which adds a medically unnecessary and burdensome 72-hour waiting period), but I think he probably won’t: After vetoing two measures near and dear to his right-wing base, he has to demonstrate to them that he’s still capable of punching down, and those pregnant women aren’t going to punch themselves. Besides, it’s a lot easier for the guv to punch defenseless women than, say, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (in the case of SB2) or the AARP (in the case of HB 405).

Book banners gonna keep trying to ban books. This time, the place is Buncombe County and the book is the awesome “Kite Runner.”

DavidsonNews.Net, a shining example of hyperlocal journalism done right, closes for lack of funds after nine years. A damned shame.

El Nino means we’ll likely have a less-active-than-normal hurricane season. Thanks, kid.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015 8:14 pm

Odds and ends for May 27

Back from vacation. Let’s get to work, shall we?

The U.S. government is still good for something — in this case, finally taking on the continuing criminal enterprise that is FIFA. (My daughter has been saying for two years that the organization’s leaders were committing fraud and worse. She’s 16.) I suspect the reason we’re doing it instead of, say, Switzerland, is that we can — because soccer’s popularity here is so low that no one will raise much of a defense of the indefensible.

I love this pope. He has been, in the opinion of this outsider, better for the Roman Catholic church than anything since Vatican II. But he still has a couple of enormous moral blind spots.

Paid Microsoft support for the U.K. government’s many computers still running Windows XP ran out in April 2015. The transition to Windows 7 or 8.1 was supposed to be complete by now, but it isn’t for many government agencies, which will have to negotiate their own, much more expensive service deal with Microsoft. Meanwhile, those machines aren’t getting any more security upgrades and thus could become vulnerable to hacking. (I have a perfectly good XP machine that isn’t powerful enough to run Win7, so when Microsoft stopped providing security updates to consumers a year ago, I turned it into a Linux machine. Still works like a charm.)

My heart and some of my money are going out to the victims of Texas tornadoes and flooding. But I’ve got to point out a couple of things. First, the increasing severity of storms such as this is a direct result of increased mean atmospheric temperature. As we learned in school, the warmer air is, the more moisture it can hold, and the more moisture is in the air, the more severe storms are. So global-warming denialists in Texas, particularly in its government, really need to sit down and shut up now. Second, I assume that all the hot air from Texas politicians about the Jade Helm military maneuvers will now cease while those same politicians ask the federal government for millions in disaster relief. Right?

Quasi-relatedly, as H.L. Mencken observed (sort of), it is difficult to make a man understand something when his bonuses depend on his not understanding it. That’s especially true of climate-science deniers and extraction-industry executives. (Note that the market value of remaining extractable carbon fuel runs into the dozens of trillions, and we’d only need to burn another $1 trillion worth to screw ourselves sideways, climate-wise.)

Related to that, crony capitalism continues in Raleigh as extraction interests continue using their bought-and-paid-for legislature to fight solar energy. They have become more vicious because they are more desperate: They know that solar will become economically feasible for replacing more than half of global electricity generation within the next 10 years.

The Supreme Court ruled debtors’ prisons unconstitutional more than 30 years ago, but that hasn’t stopped a lot of places from jailing people just because of fines and/or fees they couldn’t pay.

Pretty much everyone who isn’t working in the White House or Congress understands that the NSA’s vast warrantless data-hoovering surveillance program isn’t worth what it is costing us in liberty. So, of course, N.C.’s senior senator, Richard Burr, is arguing for more of it.

At what point is N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory going to realize that the person running the state Department of Health and Human Services, Aldona Wosis incompetent?

And at what point will N.C. voters realize that McCrory himself is incompetent? He has staked his re-election on two proposed bond issues, one for highways and the other for other infrastructure — and hoping that voters won’t realize that if not for his misguided leadership and that of his legislative pals, much of this work could have been done through the ordinary state budgeting process, rather than sinking the state $2.8 billion into debt.

North Carolina doesn’t want to kill messengers. It only wants to sue and/or imprison them.

State officials (which is to say, mainly, state Republicans) are now into their fifth year of arguing that climate change isn’t really a thing, apparently not realizing or caring that “the Atlantic isn’t waiting to see who wins the argument.

Speaking of resisting the inevitable, N.C. lawmakers are still trying to stop gay marriage by unconstitutional means.

The chairman of the UNC System’s Board of Governors, John Fennebresque, says he wants a “change agent” to replace politically fired UNC System president Tom Ross. But he won’t say what he wants changed and says the board doesn’t have a job description even as it runs a nationwide search for Ross’s successor. Let’s be real clear here: Fennesbresque and the board wouldn’t come out and say they fired Tom Ross for political reasons because they knew the public wouldn’t stand for it. And they aren’t saying what they want Ross’s successor to do for the very same reason.

Steven Long, vice chairman of the academic planning committee of the UNC System’s board of governors, says regarding program eliminations, “We’re capitalists, and we have to look at what the demand is, and we have to respond to the demand.” No, schmuck. Education is a public good, and the state university system has a duty to provide benefits to the state as a whole, not just students whose preferred  majors happen to be momentarily popular.

So Charter Communications may buy Time Warner Cable, my personal cable/Internet provider. Is there any reason to think this would mean anything but higher prices and crummier service? Thought not.

Whew. I need another vacation.


Sunday, December 7, 2008 6:33 pm

To the victors go the spoils trophies … and doughnuts

Filed under: Fusion,Hooper — Lex @ 6:33 pm
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Another one I’ve just now gotten around to pulling off the phone: Hooper receives his trophy from Coach Alex as the Fusion celebrates its undefeated fall season Nov. 15 at Krispy Kreme. It was a good season, Hooper had a (generally) good time, and Coach Alex did a great job.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008 10:57 am

Rogues’ Photo gallery

Time to get caught up on a backlog of photos. All these were taken with my cell phone, and to my surprise they didn’t turn out too badly.

First: Victoria rides a horse at our church’s fall festival, held at the farm of two of our more gracious members.
Victoria rides a horse at our church's fall festival, held at the farm of two of our more gracious members.

Next, Victoria took this picture at a Barack Obama campaign stop in Greensboro while sitting on my shoulders. Somewhere up there between the two lights is Obama, although I guess you’ll have to take my word on that.
Victoria took this picture while sitting on my shoulders. Somewhere up there between the two lights is Barack Obama. Really.

Hooper with a friend at the fall festival. As far as we know, Hooper is not a Parseltongue.
Hooper with a friend at the fall festival. As far as we know, Hooper is not a Parseltongue.

Hooper is ready to enter his team’s soccer game at a moment’s notice. Really.
Hooper is ready to enter his team's soccer game at a moment's notice. Really.

The closest we’re going to get to a full team picture of the Fusion.
The closest we're going to get to a full team photo of the Fusion.

The Buttercups, Fall 2008, after their last game of the season, a 2-2 tie.
The Buttercups, fall 2008, after their last game of the season, a 2-2 tie.

First Presbyterian Church at sunset.
First Presbyterian Church at sunset.

I haven’t attempted any action shots with the phone, primarily because you would have to get really close to the subject for it to come close to filling the frame. Still, it works pretty well on closeups, and I’ve got a particularly soothing Lake Norman sunset shot on my desktop at work now. (I’ve still got the Alexander tartan on my desktop at home.)

I sent the photos to Flickr at 800×600 to try to get the width to match the width of the text column of BOTR, but it looks like the biggest Flickr will render them is roughly 500×375. I guess that’s to accommodate smaller monitors than my 19-incher. Oh, well.

Saturday, October 25, 2008 3:59 pm

Soccer roundup

Filed under: Buttercups,Fusion — Lex @ 3:59 pm
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Once again, Hooper and Victoria’s games were opposite each other, so I didn’t get to see V. play. The Buttercups lost to the Hotshots, 2-1. They tell me one of the Hotshots’ goals was a fluke, Unfortunately, flukes still count.

The Fusion won 5-2 against the Fire, which I thought was a better team in terms of ball control and skill. But they didn’t get off all that many shots, and the Fusion’s main shooters were more accurate from long range. Hooper played two quarters, second and fourth. He was asked to go in in the third quarter but didn’t want to. He played the fourth quarter but was dragging tail, although he had one beautiful shot go just wide. When I got him home he was complaining of a sore throat, and he turned out to be running a temp of just under 101, so I guess that explains it.

The Fusion have a makeup game scheduled for Wednesday. The ‘Cups don’t play again until next Saturday.

One note about the weather. The rain hotline was updated at 7:05 this morning to announce that all games at Bryan Park would be played as scheduled. By 7:30 it was raining, and it kept raining (heavily so for a couple of brief intervals) until well after Hooper’s game ended. Bryan Park officials are usually very protective of their turf, so to speak, so, given the forecast, which called for rain and perhaps thunderstorms overnight and this morning, I was surprised they played. They may regret it: Field 6C was in something of a mess by the time the Fusion and Fire were done. I was even more surprised that the ‘Cups played on Field 5 — it’s their normal field, but it was just reseeded two weeks ago.

Monday, October 20, 2008 9:26 pm

Fusion 3, United 3

Filed under: Fusion — Lex @ 9:26 pm
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At least I think it was tied at 3. I can’t remember for sure; it might have been tied at 4. This was a makeup of an earlier rainout. It also was moved up from 6 p.m. to 5:30 just a few hours before game time, which made neither coaches nor parents especially happy. Grr.

Buttercups 2, Shooting Stars 1

Filed under: Buttercups — Lex @ 9:24 pm
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I missed this game because it was opposite Hooper’s. But teammate A.’s mom said the coach said Victoria had the best game of her Buttercup career, so it’s not like I missed anything. (Sigh.)

Fusion 6, Blaze 2

Filed under: Fusion — Lex @ 9:22 pm
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The Fusion dominated the game (this one was Saturday), and some of its individual players are really starting to stand out. But Hooper had a good game at forward, getting off three good shots. The first two were blocked. The third one was a thing of beauty, arcing over the leaping keeper’s outstretched hands — and going just wide of the upright. He felt good about his play after that.

Monday, October 13, 2008 7:34 pm

Buttercups 2, Sharks 1

Filed under: Buttercups,Victoria — Lex @ 7:34 pm
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The Buttercups have played this team twice already — with only four teams in the league and an eight-game season, they play two teams three times each and a third twice. This was the closest of the three games, and the Sharks led much of the way. In their loss two weeks ago (no games last weekend), all the Buttercups had looked very tired, very slow to the ball and pretty uninspired. They looked a lot better today until about the last five minutes, and even then there were individual bright spots.

Victoria, in contrast to the team, played a bit slow in the first half, but she stepped it up in the second. She also spent an uneventful quarter in goal.

Saturday, October 11, 2008 7:32 pm

Flame 5, Fusion 4

Filed under: Fusion,Hooper — Lex @ 7:32 pm
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The Fusion finally got a second game in, what with all the rain. Unfortunately, they didn’t play very well as a team for most of the game. One of the Flame’s goals was an own goal. Hooper spent a quarter in goal and gave up two, but only one of them was anywhere close to preventable. He displayed remarkable equanimity after the game.

Saturday, September 13, 2008 8:00 pm

Buttercups 4, Sharks 3

Filed under: Victoria — Lex @ 8:00 pm
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First, the important news: The Buttercups’ new jerseys are yellow, meaning that the team cheer, “Yellow, white, Buttercups fight!” isn’t totally incongruous anymore (last year’s jerseys were green). But they’re trimmed with black. I suggested changing the cheer to “Yellow, black, Buttercups attack!” but didn’t get any takers.

The Buttercups have added Victoria’s longtime friend A. to their roster after A.’s team broke up. A. wasted no time making an impact, scoring three of the ‘Cups’ four goals. V. left the game early after taking a poke in the eye so bad that we took her to the pediatrician. Good news: It was only a poke. The cornea was uninjured.

For those of you keeping score at home, yes, we did play the Sharks two weeks in a row. We’ll play them a third time, too. There are only four teams left in the rec-league girls under-11 league, so we’ll play two teams three times each and the third team twice.

Fusion 2, Arsenal 2

Filed under: Fusion,Hooper — Lex @ 7:58 pm
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After last weekend’s rainout, Hooper’s team played its first game today. The Arsenal controlled the ball more and better, but the Fusion hung in there. Hooper hasn’t played soccer as long as most of his teammates, and he’s still learning the mental aspects of the game, but he at least was trying to pass in the right places.

Sunday, September 7, 2008 9:15 pm

Buttercups 4, Sharks 1

Filed under: Buttercups — Lex @ 9:15 pm
Tags: , ,

The Buttercups picked up right where they left off last spring in league play, scoring two goals early and two goals late for the win.

This year, the girls have 10-person teams and play eight at a time on a larger field with larger goals, so everybody’s getting plenty of playing time — and plenty of running. As a team the ‘cups both were a little rusty and acclimating themselves to the larger field, so the passing, beyond short range, wasn’t all that crisp. But the offense got the job done and the Buttercups keeper came up with some big stops late.

Victoria didn’t score, but she got off two good shots on goal. One was blocked, and the other, otherwise bound for a spot high in the net, hit a Shark in the head. She took a foot in the side of her right ankle during the second half that was hard enough to go through the pad and injure her. She had to be carried off the field, but she returned late in the game.

Memo to self: Always bring sunscreen. Always.

One other note: Last spring, the girls voted to seek a name change for the team, to the Wildcats. Apparently the league said no.

Saturday, September 6, 2008 9:09 am

Hanna 1, Fusion 0

Filed under: Fusion,Hooper — Lex @ 9:09 am
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Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains.

Friday, August 22, 2008 7:29 pm

Return of the Fusion

Filed under: Fusion,Hooper — Lex @ 7:29 pm
Tags: , ,

Remember the Fusion, Hooper’s soccer team when he was a 4-year-old? It’s back.

Hooper decided after his first season that he didn’t really like soccer very much, so since then it has been his big sister’s thing. But this summer, he decided he wanted to play again, so we signed him up and lo and behold, he got put on the same team he was on three years ago. Only two of the five who were on the team with him back then are still there, but one of them is his best friend from that team. Their first practice was yesterday, and he did well and said afterward that it was a lot of fun. I met both coaches, and they seem like really good guys.

Their first game, as is Victoria’s, is 9/7 9/6.

Monday, August 4, 2008 7:36 am

Live from Beijing

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 7:36 am
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My friend and former colleague Beau Dure, a major soccer enthusiast and a very occasional commenter here, is, as I write, en route to Beijing to cover Olympic soccer for USA Today. In an e-mail to some friends and relatives, he lists a number of ways in which you can keep up with what he’s doing:

1. Read my stories online at

2. Check my work blog, which I may or may not update regularly at

3. Check my Twitter feed, which I will update regularly, at

4. Check our blog for the Olympics, to which I’ll contribute on occasion, at

5. E-mail me [I’m omitting his personal e-mail address — Lex]

6. Message me on Facebook

7. See the games I’m covering, live on TV in the early a.m. Eastern time. Here’s the TV schedule for the group stage (I will NOT be going to the third women’s game in Shenyang). Start at 7:45 a.m. ET Wednesday for the women’s game against Norway on MSNBC and the NBC Olympic Soccer Channel, which your cable system may or may not be adding.

8. Go to your newsstand or a newspaper rack, plunk down 75 cents and read my stories.

I’m not quite the soccer enthusiast Beau is, but I’ll be checking on him nonetheless.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008 8:15 pm


Filed under: Buttercups,Victoria — Lex @ 8:15 pm
Tags: , ,

I missed it because I had to work, but Victoria’s Buttercups soccer team won out last night to close the season undefeated at 7-0-1. They won 4-2 against the team they tied earlier. V. didn’t score but was very happy with her play.

Up next: Wrangler-McDonald’s. And then a well-deserved summer rest.

Friday, May 2, 2008 5:08 pm

Buttercups 7, Sharks 3

Filed under: Buttercups — Lex @ 5:08 pm
Tags: , ,

The good news: Victoria scored. The bad news: she gave up mumble goals as keeper.

And the ‘Cups are 6-0-1 with one regular-season game remaining and the Wrangler-McDonald’s tournament coming up.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008 9:05 pm

Buttercups 3, Red Hot Chili Peppers 2

Filed under: Buttercups — Lex @ 9:05 pm
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Last time, the Buttercups romped; this time, it was a much more closely played game.

V. started on defense, then spent much of the 2nd half as striker. She came agonizingly close to goals three times, once on a shot that went just wide and the other two on heroic saves by the Peppers’ keeper.

We’ve agreed that if she scores a goal, we’re going out for milkshakes after the game, so she was pretty bummed about not having knocked one home. After the game, we tried to go to Ben & Jerry’s for their free-scoop day, but the line was forever so we went and paid regular price at Coldstone (better ice cream, in my opinion).

With two makeup games remaining, the ‘Cups remain undefeated at 5-0-1. And we’ll be playing in the Wrangler-McDonald’s tournament Memorial Day weekend.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008 10:05 pm

Buttercups 4, Shakers 1

Filed under: Buttercups,Victoria — Lex @ 10:05 pm
Tags: , ,

The Buttercups stayed undefeated, beating the Shakers tonight in a game that had been postponed from two Tuesdays ago because of rain. (Last night’s game was postponed as well. At this rate, the season might not end until July, but, hey, we need the rain.)

The ‘Cups got two quick ones to start the game, then settled down to a lot of ball control, most of it on the Shakers’ end of the field. They got their third goal early in the second half. Victoria spent a lengthy but uneventful chunk of the second half in goal, after which she played striker. The last goal came on a penalty kick by Victoria’s teammate S., who uncorked a beauty, waist-high and just to the keeper’s right.

I could tell you when the Buttercups’ next game is, but the rain would probably make me a liar, so I won’t. I will say that with rain in the forecast for Saturday (i.e., the field wouldn’t be playable for at least two days), the team is looking at indoor practice for a second straight Sunday. But the important thing is that halfway through the season, at least in terms of number of games played, the Buttercups are 3-0-1.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008 8:57 pm

Catching up, and blowing away

Filed under: Buttercups,Victoria — Lex @ 8:57 pm
Tags: , ,

It’s Buttercups soccer time again, and I’ve been remiss because the games have fallen opposite Hooper’s Cub Scouts or other scheduling issues. The first game was actually the second, the real first game having been postponed by rain. (We’re in a drought, but we’ve had a game postponed and two practices canceled by rain.)

I forget which was which, but the ‘Cups won one of the first two games 3-0 and tied the other one 3-3. Then, earlier tonight, they took on the Red Hot Chili Peppers, a team that in the past has given them fits, and blew them away, 8-0. Victoria spent most of an uneventful second half in goal before scoring the final goal on a sliding kick. She also had an assist earlier in the game.

The midseason break comes a week early because Easter is early this year, so the Buttercups head into the break 2-0-1.

Monday, December 3, 2007 8:20 am

Buttercups 13, three other teams 2

Filed under: Buttercups — Lex @ 8:20 am
Tags: , ,

I’ve been meaning to blog about this since it happened and kept forgetting. (You can see that blogging has not been uppermost in my mind of late.) But on Nov. 10, the ‘Cups played three Asheville-Buncombe Youth Soccer Association teams in the N.C. Youth Soccer Association District 5 tournament and festival in Asheville. And they racked up more wins in five hours than they had scored all season to that point.

They beat the Asheville No. 1 team (that was its name, not, so far as I know, its ranking) 4-1 in the first game. They beat the Spider Monkeys 3-1 in the second game. And they beat the Heatwave 6-0 in the third game.

The second game was the tough one — when the game started, I thought the Monkeys’ superior ball control was going to spell big trouble. But the Buttercups were quicker to the ball, and that made the difference.

The competition was not markedly different from that of the Greensboro teams the Buttercups played this season. The difference on this day was that the ‘Cups played their best ball of the season on offense and defense. Their passes were crisper, they did a much better job of getting open to receive passes, and they shot more aggressively — I lost count of the number of shots that bounced off the upright with the opposing teams’ keepers nowhere near in position to have made the save. 13-2 easily could have ended up 18-2 or so.

Victoria got the last goal in the third game. She caught a bloody lip at one point but didn’t stay out for long. One of the teams, and I forget now whether it was the Spider Monkeys or the Heatwave, wasn’t especially gracious about losing: When the teams lined up to slap five as is customary after games, some of the other girls were trying to rake our girls’ hands with their fingernails. Our coach spoke to their coach about it.

After the games, we had a nice team dinner and presented coaches Ricky and Bob with gift certificates to thank them for their hard work. Then it was back to the motel for swimming and hot-tubbing with the kids. All in all, a very nice weekend.

UPDATE: Here’s a picture:

Monday, October 29, 2007 8:32 am

Weather 1, Buttercups 0

Filed under: Buttercups — Lex @ 8:32 am
Tags: , ,

Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains (although Greensboro could be forgiven for having forgotten that last part).

Wednesday, October 24, 2007 6:04 am

Other team 4, Buttercups 1

Filed under: Buttercups — Lex @ 6:04 am
Tags: ,

I missed this game, too, this time because I was ConvergeSouthing. Victoria had another commitment and didn’t arrive until halfway through the first half, with the team already down 3-0, whereupon the coach immediately put her into the game on offense.

V. apparently had 11 shots on goal, although she didn’t score. That tells me she kept the ball down on the opponents’ end a great deal and that she is overcoming her reluctance to take shots when the opportunity is there, particularly from longer range.

Ann said Victoria added a lot of speed to the ‘Cups’ offensive game. I believe it.

Season record: 1-3-2.

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